ESPN to push social and video in upcoming Ashes coverage with Dave and Microsoft sponsorship deals
ESPN’s Ashes cricket coverage will have a strong focus on social media engagement and video, according to ESPN EMEA sales director Alan Fagan, after the broadcaster signed sponsorship deals with comedy channel Dave and Microsoft.
The sponsorship - which was brokered by Rocket - with Dave will push the social side of ESPN’s coverage, with the channel creating a second screen experience for fans on its ESPNcricinfo site – called The Ashes Witty Banter Hub - that will pull together the social feed from “everywhere that any fan who is interested in the Ashes engages with”.
Deal: Dave and Microsoft have signed up as sponsors
Speaking to The Drum, Fagan said: “We know fine well that sports fans in particular, during big sports matches, want to second screen and want to engage with other fans in this way, so we want to create an environment where we can do that.
“We’re also building on Dave’s moniker of witty banter and taking it to our cricket audience. We’ve significantly increased the number of ways fans can engage with us during the upcoming Ashes.”
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The social hub will act as a social flipboard of all news and views, while other sponsorship activity with Dave will include homepage takeovers.
Steve North, general manager at UKTV Dave, said: “Cricket has provided us with some of the wittiest banter in sport and feels a natural fit for the Dave brand.
“The opportunity to link up with ESPNcricinfo and get involved with this unique element of the Ashes, which is seen as the pinnacle of the cricketing calendar, gives us the opportunity to engage with our audience in a new and innovative way.”
Fagan said that as well as social, ESPN will provide more video content for fans within this year’s coverage, with end-of-test videos, a new video series in which questions from fans through the ESPNcricinfo feed will be answered, an Ashes video diary and behind-the-scenes footage.
“Microsoft are going to be associated with all that video and I think that’s probably the highlight of their package,” Fagan continued. “The video element of what we’re doing for this Ashes in particular is a bit different from what’s been done in the past. We’re significantly increasing the amount of video that’s on the site.”
According to Fagan, the two key elements of this Ashes campaign for the broadcaster are social engagement and video, adding that it’s the first time ESPN has piloted a second screen social hub in this way.
“This is really our first attempt,” he said, “so we’re looking at it very closely. We’re pretty confident this is going to do well.
“Cricinfo is well-known and well-liked for its match coverage and the depth of its content, but we really want to be popular in the areas of engagement, social and video.
“We see it in other markets where we have strong TV components as well; the social activity really spikes during big moments in the match. We want to either provide the experience or be part of that conversation. This is part of our ambition to do that.”
Other sponsors signed up to ESPN’s coverage include automotive brand Holden, Nicabate stop-smoking products, Asics and Village Roadshow in Australia. The Ashes gets underway in Brisbane on Thursday.